Fire damages West Los Angeles apartment building, at least 10 hurt

LOS ANGELES - A fire heavily damaged an 11th-story apartment in a West Los Angeles high-rise Friday, and at least 10 people were injured, including three firefighters and a critically injured 2-year-old girl who was found in a smoke-filled stairwell on the 23rd floor.

Firefighters were sent to the 25-story Barrington Plaza complex in the 11700 block of Wilshire Boulevard about 11:45 a.m. on a report of smoke showing from the 11th floor, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

At the height of the blaze, a plume of black smoke could be seen emanating from the structure, with flames shooting from west-facing windows.

Within about 45 minutes, the flames had been largely extinguished. The fire was declared out in an hour and 11 minutes. Despite what appeared to be two distinct plumes of smoke coming from the building, fire officials said the blaze was contained to a single two-bedroom apartment.

Two people were initially taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke exposure, Humphrey said. But as fire crews continued to search the building, paramedics found five other residents suffering from minor to moderate respiratory distress, Humphrey said.

Two of those injured residents declined to be taken to hospital for treatment, Humphrey said. Among those who were transported was a critically injured 2-year-old girl who was found with a man in a 23rd-floor stairwell. Both were initially taken to the roof of the building for treatment, but then taken to the ground floor. According to reports from the scene, the girl was breathing when she was taken to a UCLA hospital.

Three firefighters also sustained burns and were taken to the Grossman Burn Center for evaluation of non-life-threatening injuries, Humphrey said.

"Two of the firefighters have leg burns and the other has a burn to his ear," according to Humphrey.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation. A damage estimate was not immediately available, but in addition to the heavy fire and smoke damage, the heavy amount of water poured onto the blaze was causing damage to some lower floors.

Traffic was routed away from the area as firefighting equipment was staged around the building. Wilshire Boulevard was shut down in the heavily traveled Brentwood-area corridor and traffic congested west of the San Diego (405) Freeway.

Humphrey noted that some residents on upper floors of the building ignored fire alarms and remained in their apartments, and fire crews were deployed to check on their welfare.

The 386-unit building was built in 1961 and was not equipped with a sprinkler system, because it was grandfathered in and not required to be so equipped, according to the LAFD.

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